There’s a lot of fanfare around grant awards, but what happens after the ceremonial checks are presented and the reporters have published their articles? Our partners get down to business.
For 29 years, GOCO has improved Colorado’s great outdoors with the help of Colorado Lottery proceeds. We’ve put more than $1.3 billion in proceeds back into 5,500 projects to improve the lives of Coloradans across the state.
After projects are awarded funding, grant recipients have about two years to make their projects happen.
In the months of November and December, 24 projects were completed, representing more than $5.2 million in GOCO investments into local communities across the state. Scroll to see if one’s near you:
Arkansas River Trail, Invasive Plant & Tree Removal Project
$41,800 grant to the City of Pueblo
With its Conservation Service Corps grant, the City of Pueblo hired Mile High Youth Corps chainsaw and pesticide crews for four weeks of work on the Arkansas River Trail. Crews worked in partnership with staff from the City’s parks and recreation department to restore a two-acre section of the trail that was overgrown with dense, invasive vegetation. They cut trees, used the piled wood for mulching, and treated the affected area with pesticides to prevent future growth. This project expanded access to other trail systems and the nearby busy City Park during a time of increased recreation due to the pandemic.
Learn more about our Conservation Service Corps Program
Back to the Basics - Passive Recreation and Wildlife Enhancements
$17,950 grant to the City of Boulder
The City of Boulder used its Conservation Service Corps grant to employ a Mile High Youth Corps (MHYC) crew for enhancements to Boulder Reservoir. The crew focused on the North Shore and Coot Lake Management Area, a 122-acre open space that borders the reservoir and features 4.5 miles of trail, a fishing area, wildlife viewing opportunities, and more. The crew closed and restored undesignated trails, addressed trail sustainability, restored grasslands that provide habitat for a variety of species, and removed invasive species.
Learn more about MHYC
Community Trails Support Local Workforce, Economies, Health, and Wellness
$250,532 grant to San Luis Valley Great Outdoors
With its Resilient Communities Program grant, San Luis Valley Great Outdoors (SLV GO) employed San Luis Valley residents on a trail construction, stewardship, and restoration crew known as the Great Outdoors Action Team (GOATs) to complete projects in San Luis, Alamosa, and Monte Vista. GOATs completed a loop trail that was under development in the Rito Seco Park in San Luis, finished a section of trail and developed a boardwalk in Alamosa, and completed the first and only nature trail in Monte Vista. These projects were completed in June of 2021, creating immediate nature-based experiences in the communities.
Read a local press release about the grant
Cripple Creek Parks & Trails Restoration and Development Project
$26,940 grant to the City of Cripple Creek
With a Conservation Service Corps grant, the City of Cripple Creek hired a crew from Mile High Youth Corps (MHYC) to make enhancements at Gold Camp Trail, City Park, and Mountain View Adventure Park. On Gold Camp Trail, the crew removed weeds and rocks, implemented erosion control measures, and replaced missing and damaged signs. They restored the City Park’s playground equipment, picnic tables, fencing, and trash cans. Crews also made minor surface enhancements on the walking trail, BMX bike track, and sidewalk at Mountain View Adventure Park. These enhancements improved recreation opportunities and provided a safer experience for visitors.
Read more about the project
Crowther Meadows - Conejos Ranchland Initiative - Preserving Working Wet Meadows
$109,500 grant to Rio Grande Headwaters Land Trust (RiGHT)
With the help of an Open Space grant, RiGHT permanently protected Crowther Meadows Ranch. Located northeast of Manassa in the southern portion of the San Luis Valley, the 160-acre property protects river areas and important wetlands adjacent to the Conejos River. The plant communities of cropland, pasture, freshwater marsh, and forested shrubland found on the property provide habitat for elk, mule, deer, waterfowl, migratory birds, raptors, amphibians, and reptiles. Its conservation maintains the agricultural landscape and scenic open space along the Conejos and Rio San Antonio Rivers.
Learn more about RiGHT
East West Regional Trail
$2,000,000 grant to Douglas County
With the help of GOCO’s Connect Initiative funding, Douglas County and the Town of Parker constructed the final phase of the East West Regional Trail. The 10-mile trail consists of eight miles of soft-surface trail, two miles of hard surface trail, three underpasses, and one trailhead. Its completion gives the south metro area a direct connection from Chatfield State Park east through Douglas County to Parker and connects to the Cherry Creek Trail.
Learn more about the trail
Elkhorn Creek Forest Health
$62,700 grant to Larimer County
With the help of a Conservation Service Corps grant, Larimer County hired a chainsaw crew for six weeks of work to clear dead trees and reduce forest density at Ben Delatour Scout Ranch. The crew worked on a 15-acre parcel that faced extreme fire risk due to a large concentration of ponderosa pine and dry mixed conifer trees. The crew traversed the property’s steep slopes to cut trees and pile wood to burn at a later date. This project was built on past and planned efforts to improve the forest's health and protect the Elkhorn Creek area, which supplies water to more than 300,000 people.
Read more about the project
Emerald Ash Borer Mitigation in Wheat Ridge
$41,800 grant to the City of Wheat Ridge
The City of Wheat Ridge used its Conservation Service Corps grant to hire a Mile High Youth Corps crew to address the spread of Emerald Ash Borer, an invasive beetle species that feeds on ash trees. The crew worked with City forestry staff to assess 700 trees on various properties, placed signs on trees as part of the City’s “Watch Your Ash” awareness campaign, installed beetle traps, and salvaged infected trees when possible. The City of Wheat Ridge also conducted outreach to assist residents with ash trees on private property.
Read the news release
Fire and Noxious Weed Mitigation Bell Park
$61,393 grant to the City and County of Denver
With the help of a Conservation Service Corps grant, the City and County of Denver employed a Mile High Youth Corps chainsaw crew to treat 10 acres of forested land at Bell Park. Crews worked for six weeks on thinning dense trees to reduce fire risk and removed noxious weeds to improve the ecological health of the park. Located near Evergreen and managed by Denver Mountain Parks, Bell Park is a subsidiary of Denver Parks and Recreation.
Learn more about our Conservation Service Corps program
Hazard Tree and Forest Fuel Mitigation Project in Eastern Grand County
$41,800 grant to the Town of Winter Park
With this Conservation Service Corps grant, a crew from Rocky Mountain Youth Corps cleared dead trees and forest fuels along 20 miles of trail in Winter Park, Fraser, and Tabernash. Grand County had been greatly affected by the pine beetle epidemic, which increased wildfire risk due to a large number of dead trees. The crew worked for four weeks to remove dead and diseased trees and piled wood for burning on the Idlewild and Phases trail systems.
Read more about the project
Intemann Trail Sustainability Project 2021
$25,050 grant to the City of Manitou Springs
With the help of a Conservation Service Corps grant, the City of Manitou Springs hired a Mile High Youth Corps crew for three weeks of work on the Intemann Trail. Crews restored a closed section of the trail, built a retaining wall near the western trailhead, closed undesignated social trails, and conducted general tread maintenance. The Intemann trail is the backbone of the city’s trail system, and the path connects to Iron Mountain Open Space and Red Mountain Open Space, providing access to some of El Paso County’s most popular trails and outdoor spaces.
Read more about GOCO funding in the Pikes Peak Region
Methodist Front Wildland Urban Interface Forest and Watershed Health Restoration
$18,287 grant to the Town of Poncha Springs
With the help of a Conservation Service Corps grant, a chainsaw crew from Southwest Conservation Corps (SCC) worked for four weeks to reduce wildfire risk along five linear miles of land adjacent to Highway 285. The crew thinned dense trees on 178 acres of steep terrain and cleared brush on an additional 300 acres of flat land. Due to the large concentration of dead trees and other dry plant matter, these areas were identified as the highest priorities for wildfire mitigation in the 2020 Chaffee County Next Generation master plan.
Learn more about SCC
Monitoring from Afar
$155,000 grant to Keep It Colorado
With its Resilient Communities grant, Keep It Colorado (KIC) re-granted funds to support Colorado land trusts with their transition to remote sensing technologies for conservation easement monitoring. Remote monitoring helps land trusts meet their stewardship responsibilities while keeping rural communities, landowners, and staff safe. KIC conducted a collective analysis of technologies used by land trusts, which will lead to more collaborative monitoring approaches and shift to the widespread use of satellite or aerial imagery to fulfill annual monitoring requirements. This will establish resilient and efficient stewardship practices across the state and create a more sustainable land trust community.
Read more about the project
Montrose County Severe Special Needs Adaptive Playground
$350,000 grant to the City of Montrose
In partnership with Centennial Middle School, the City of Montrose used its Local Parks and Outdoor Recreation grant to construct the first community play-space in the region designed to provide access to individuals with severe disabilities. The play-space features safety surfacing, a universally accessible playground, and shade and park furnishings.
Read more about this project and other grants awarded to the City of Montrose
Non-Motorized Trail Maintenance Strike Team
$158,686 grant to Colorado Mountain Bike Association
With the help of a Resilient Communities Program grant, the Colorado Mountain Bike Association (COMBA) established a professional trail maintenance crew that focuses on repairing non-motorized hiking and biking trails. COMBA hand-selected, employed, and trained a highly specialized “strike crew” to focus on the busiest areas along the central Front Range that typically relies on volunteers and government grants to support trail maintenance work, like the heavily impacted systems in Clear Creek, Jefferson, and Park Counties. This program was developed for immediate deployment in the late spring of 2021 and associated outcomes were used to collect financial support to sustain a long-term crew.
Learn more about COMBA
North Mt. Elbert Maintenance
$53,880 grant to Lake County
Mt. Elbert is the highest point in Colorado and receives more than 20,000 hiking use days annually. With its Conservation Service Corps grant, Lake County employed a camping crew from Rocky Mountain Youth Corps to repair and reroute a quarter-mile portion of the north trail that had been badly damaged from heavy use. The completed trail work reduced the average grade on the section from 50% to 18%, enhancing user experience and accessibility. Crews also installed rock stairways and retaining walls to mitigate future damage and erosion.
Learn more about our Conservation Service Corps grant program
Pheasant Valley Ranch - Saguache & San Luis Creek Conservation Legacy
$330,000 grant to Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust
Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust (CCALT) used its Open Space grant to conserve the remaining 2,091.8 acres of Pheasant Valley Ranch. Located in the northern San Luis Valley, the now permanently protected 3,858.2-acre property provides scenic views of the San Juan and Sawatch mountains, as well as the Sangre de Cristo Mountain Range. The property includes 1.4 miles of the San Luis Creek and numerous tributaries protecting important water resources for wildlife habitat. It is home to a wide variety of wildlife like elk, mule deer, pronghorn, the bald eagle, and numerous bird species listed as conservation priorities by Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
Learn more about CCALT
Olathe & The Nature Connection
$150,134 grant to the Town of Olathe, $36,245.84 towards climbing infrastructure
In partnership with The Nature Connection (TNC), the Town of Olathe used its Generation Wild grant to install an indoor climbing wall at Olathe Middle High School and an outdoor climbing boulder at Olathe Elementary School. Both amenities give local youth of all ages and the community at large an opportunity to learn a skill in a safe and positive environment.Learn more about our Generation Wild grant program
Prairie Stream Restoration
$31,350 grant to Southern Plains Land Trust
With its Conservation Service Corps grant, Southern Plains Land Trust (SPLT) hired a Mile High Youth Corps (MHYC) crew for river restoration work at Heartland Ranch and at Raven’s Nest nature preserves. Tamarisk, an invasive species that crowd other plants and soaks up water, was prevalent at both locations. SPLT worked to remove the plants along with the properties’ riparian areas and achieved total removal with help from MHYC. Crews also installed structures along streams and side channels to reduce erosion caused by livestock grazing.
Learn more about SPLT
Resource Protection at Sacramento Creek Ranch
$28,410 grant to Mountain Area Land Trust (MALT)
Sacramento Creek Ranch was acquired in 2019 and serves as MALT’s base for conservation operations. It features public trails and is a site for environmental education and high-alpine research. With the help of a Conservation Service Corps grant, camping and chainsaw crews from Southwest Conservation Corps worked for three weeks on a variety of maintenance improvements on the property. Crews mitigated invasive species, removed dead trees and debris, and installed fences. They established a new camping area, repaired the existing tent pads, and created a hillside outdoor classroom by terracing a portion of the property and building steps and seats out of rocks and logs. This project was completed to expand recreation opportunities at the ranch.
Read more about the project
Russian Olive Tree Removal
$23,512 grant to Foothills Park and Recreation District (FPRD)
With its Conservation Service Corps grant, FPRD employed a Mile High Youth Corps (MHYC) crew for three weeks of work at Wayside Meadows Park and Meadows Golf Club. Crews removed invasive Russian olive trees and applied pesticides to prevent future spread. This project improved the ecological health of the club by reducing erosion and flooding, restoring water quality, and allowing native species the opportunity to regrow.
Learn more about MHYC
Salida Skate Park
$350,000 grant to the City of Salida
The City of Salida used its Local Parks and Outdoor Recreation grant to build a 16,000 square foot skate park in Centennial Park next to Highway 50. The completed project included street and transition features, lighting, shade, a bathroom, and an art wall displaying art murals contributed by local and regional artists as well as school groups. The skate park incorporates characteristics of the town like river rocks and boulders to highlight the mountains and river that runs through the town. This project was a community-led effort by the Friends of Salida Skateparks.
Learn more about the project
Sombrero Marsh Environmental Education Center Enhancement Project
$350,000 grant to Boulder County
With the help of a Local Parks and Outdoor Recreation grant, Boulder County partnered with Thorne Nature Experience to enhance the Sombrero Marsh Environmental Education Center (SMEEC). Sombrero Marsh is one of the two natural bodies of water in Boulder County, and SMEEC is the only environmental education center located in the plains of Boulder County that has served thousands of Boulder County youth annually for school field trips, summer camps, and community nature events. The additions of a nature play area, gazebos, parking, walking paths, and park amenities to the site provided the opportunity to take learning outside and improved the safety and experience of current campers, students, and visitors.
Learn more about SMEEC
Taylor-Oswald Ranch Conservation Easement
$525,000 grant to San Isabel Land Protection Trust
With Open Space funding from GOCO and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), the Trust for Public Land, Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust, and San Isabel Land Protection Trust conserved Taylor-Oswald Ranch. Located southwest of Colorado Springs near the intersection of Fremont, Saguache, and Custer counties, the 2,727.2-acre ranch provides scenic views from surrounding public lands and various state and county roads. The property provides a continuous corridor linking the forests and meadows of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains to the Arkansas River, offering migration paths for several wildlife species including elk, mule deer, pronghorn, and bighorn sheep. It also contains more than 120 acres of seasonally flood-irrigated meadows and wetlands and 212 acres that are considered Farmland of Statewide Importance or Prime Farmland if irrigated.
Read more about the project